More about election 2015 and in-coming government
The curtain would not be drawn on the implications of the recently concluded 2015 general election any while soon.
Even after the in—coming government is inaugurated on Friday, May 29, 2015, a lot would continue to be said about the election, which clocks a number of notable firsts, particularly power changing hands from one party to another, at the centre and in many states – all in one fell swoop.
In 16 years of the Fourth Republic (1999 to 2015), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that controlled power at Abuja and in many states– both executive and legislature – lost out in almost the same fashion.
How the victor, the All Progressive Congress (APC), a coalition that was less than one year and five months before the election, will play the politics differently from the PDP to achieve different results from what the nation
has experienced so far under the defeated party, is a sore point of the transfer of power.
APC and power management
A number of conspiracy theories have been spurned around the new ruling party’s victory, in particular the defeat of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan by APC’s candidate and President-Elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.
The most debated, it appears, is about the impact of the coalition that brought on board the formation of the APC on the polity. It is not being called coalition, but collusion (not even collaboration).
This refers to the Hausa/Fulani North West and North East, usually politically classed together as far North, and the Yoruba South West. Both happen to be the largest geo-political zones of the country, possessing the states with the largest population.
This theory is basically about power-sharing. The far-North and South West, are coming together for the first time at the Centre with some differences.
The one (far-North) is reputed as dominating power at the Centre. It had always schemed for control of power, especially at the Centre, and does not support a lean government.
The other, South West, the nation’s single most sophisticated political bloc, which six states have the one- language advantage, had, before now, been for localized politics and self-determinism. It had been progressive and regional in its approach to power.
In the past, it teamed and backed progressive forces around the country, particularly in the South and North Central (northern minority middle-belt states). Now, it has opted to go with the vastly conservative North.
South East and South South
One of the by-products of the coming together of North and South West is the emergence of what is now laughingly referred to by some as junior partners in the Nigerian political enterprise, which others insist is no laughing matter.
And it is about the South East, the third of Nigeria’s tripod of majorities and South South, the oil-bearing zone, from which Jonathan, the PDP defeated candidate, hails.
In the past, the South South had opted to go with the North. However, Jonathan’s appearance at national politics as Vice President was more a creation former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, who also executed the coming of the then President, late Umaru Yar’Adua.
He moved onto Acting President when Yar’Adua died in July 2009 and contested and won his first term – what out-going Kano State Governornow Senator-elect, Rabui Musa Kwankwaso tagged recently, “we (North) give you power, you insult us, then we take it from you –“ itself an often-referred-to agreement allegedly signed by Jonathan to do one term.
And so, Jonathan and South South foray into politics at the Centre and taste of the Presidency ends now a little less than six years, raising the question in some quarters, “when will be South minorities et to be President again.”
The South East is featuring in the debate in a straight bread and butter format.
It had in the election, on one hand, supported Jonathan, and on the other, fought hard for Buhari, especially through the efforts of the Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha and Dr, Chris Ngige.
Senator Ngige, a popular politician who had governed Anambra State under PDP before moving over to APC, lost his return bid to the upper chamber of the National Assembly.
Okorocha finally succeeded in his run for second term at a supplementary election contest held for his State last Saturday.
Like Ngige, the APC is saddled finding “something worth-while” for Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State in the South South. Although the price of oil is dwindling in the world market, South-southern politicians of the APC may well be banking on Buhari’s recognition of the product as still the golden goose that lays the eggs for the nation’s survival.
The President-elect has been quoted to say he would even continue the search for oil in the Chad basin.
Amaechi was Buhari’s Presidential campaign director but, ending his two-term governorship of his State on May 29, faces marginalization in the APC.
He is believed to have put up a candidate from his State for the party chairman but was turned down. He eyed the VP ticket. That, too, didn’t fly.
He had quit with the PDP; first, with the Group of Seven (G.7) governors (six were Northern Governors), and thereafter, five of them, including him, decamped to APC.
Amaechi is to be one of the key financiers of the Buhari Presidential campaign and had intensified his fight against Jonathan and his wife, Patience, which started before he (Amaechi) left PDP and had raged without let-up in the APC.
Some who opposed his role remark that “he should count himself lucky that Jonathan didn’t return as President,” while others insist, “Amaechi wouldn’t have cared.”
The down-play of electoral hitches
The election also brought out some striking firsts in this renewed democracy, including the first time two deputy governors were elected to succeed their principals in Kano and Ebonyi States and the first time an opposition political party would defeat the ruling party in Kaduna, Niger, Katsina, Adamawa, Benue and Plateau.
The PDP being almost completely replaced in power at the federal and state levels by the new kid on-the-block, APC is of a magnitude and novelty that tends to push aside every other consideration.
To be sure, the entire nation did desire some form of change or transformation – at least on how things are to be done. But what has occurred is a change-over, the replacement of personnel. Whether it will translate to more than change within the same group or set of politicians is for wait to be seen.
The over-all peaceful outcome, the eventual winner and President-Elect, Buhari, whose supporters actually yearned for and then, the novelty of the March 31, congratulatory telephone call to the winner by the loser, Jonathan – have all created an atmosphere where a lot is overlooked or taken for granted.
Notably, Jonathan’s critics and traducers may have bluntly rejected his transformation by the congratulatory act to the election’s hero and statesman. But they can’t beat the praise of the out-going President for willingly surrendering, even by Buhari’s supporters.
Bakare, and the Latter Rain Assembly celebration
IT was a model celebration of the election outcome on Sunday, April 5th (Easter Sunday) at the church Service, the first Sunday after the Presidential election, led by vocal Paster Tunde Bakare and his Latter Rain Assembly, which he pastors in Lagos.
“What could have been mourning was turned to joy,” said the sharp-speaking, political/social crusader, a personal friend of Buhari who was the President-Elect’s running mate in the 2011 election. The worshippers sang jubilantly and very cheerfully.
“The nations of the world were waiting for our disintegration. To President Jonathan: You set a good example. You acted when it mattered most. You made it as a statesman, an icon of history. Thank you for sacrificing.”
And to Buhari he said: “You didn’t quit; congrats Mr Integrity.”
Foreign countries – especially North America and Western Europe had paid almost obsessive attention to the election. Their interest was so vested they enlisted Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar, a former Head of State to persuade Jonathan and Buhari to sign a peace pact twice, no matter the election outcome.
Some Foreign Observer teams to the election kept to the tradition of making their observations known, mostly in writing when the election would have been concluded while others veered into calling the Press to protest even before the conclusion of election – act of intrusion, although the protest was also corrected by another International Observer team leader.
In a sense, all these served to keep the elections sane and away from the country’s usual electoral negatives.
The magic machine, Card Reader
THE facts of the extent of success recorded in the election by the transaction-like small electronic object, Card Reader, and its true impact in checking electoral malpractices and frustrating rigging has not been genuinely examined or fully documented.
An operational artifact for the Permanent Voter Card (PVC) – itself a novel creation – both introductions by the INEC for the election, the first time the electoral umpire would do this, has been generally highly acclaimed.
The INEC officials, particularly the Commission national chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega as well as politicians cast it in the glowing lights of some sort of magic wand, tailor-made to neutralize all shades of electoral irregularities.
Indeed, the combination, if efficiently applied, is capable of achieving all of that. But whether it was so in the election is a different matter.
Take the repeat/supplementary elections ordered for a few states, including the re-run last Saturday for Delta Central Senatorial district, and some local governments before the winners of the Governorship Elections in three states of Abia, Imo and Taraba emerged:
Electoral malpractices involving use, non-use, and willful setting aside of the Reader has featured terribly. The INEC had allowed manual accreditation of voters, following the failure of the Reader in affected cases, especially after Jonathan and his wife could not be accredited four times and had to be cleared manually before voting.
Highlights of complaints that aggrieved candidates have lined in preparation to appear before electoral tribunals over the outcome of some of the April 11 State Election of State Governors and members of State Assemblies, include, setting aside the Reader and writing, or falsification of results.
Last Saturday Governorship re-run for nine local governments in Abia is a case in point. The campaign team of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) governorship candidate, Mr. Alex Otti, alleged that the PDP and the state INEC had colluded to set aside the Reader to write election results.
It is striking that in the March 28 Presidential election, the Card Reader featured little or no complaints in the North. Because majority was expected over there to vote General Buhari, the Readers up there functioned almost well beyond reproach.
The President-Elect, like his supporters, especially up far North, had generally smooth, hitch-free polling unlike down South where four successive Readers failed to accredit Jonathan and his wife and a few North Central States. Almost all the seven North West states made nearly 100 percent polling figures.
Some of the known recurrent cases of election malpractices in the North, notably child-voting and movements across border by Nigeria’s northern neighbours to participate appear not to have featured in the Presidential election.
PDP: A once-national party
The PDP national chairman, Adamu Mu’azu says the party will bounce back in 2019. But will it? Under the nation’s Presidential system, with vestiges of military incursions into power, which has led to the concentration of power at the centre, the loss of Federal elections is a disaster. It is tantamount to losing the election.
Adherents now hardly talk of leadership. The party future faces dark prospects. Muazu and national Secretary Prof Wale Oladipo, two principal officials, are from North East and South West – no good story for PDP, especially in South West.
South West APC and its prime mover and APC national leader, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, achieved, with the zone’s arrival at the Centre, what the father of South West politics, Papa Awo, could not achieve.
Aside Senator David Mark, who had been in the Senate since 2003 and has served as Senate President since 2007, there is virtually no politician of note to rally the PDP.
His return to the Senate from Benue State would be on his personal merit where the PDP lost the two remaining Senatorial seats to APC. Benue is also where two former chairmen of the PDP quit for APC, including Chief Barnabas Gemade. The other is Chief Audu Ogbeh. Gemade defeated Governor Gabriel Suswam.
Governors Sule Lamido and Babangida Aliyu, (Jigawa and Niger) both of who did not defect, and rather had opted to stay back could be reference points.
But it is now doubtful. Lamido ends his governorship on May 29. How he fits into the new set-up is a matter for speculation. Lamido is close to Obasanjo who openly supported Buhari.
Aliyu wanted to retire from being governor to the Senate.But he was stopped by his old foe, Senator David Umaru. He has been saying that he saw Jonathan’s defeat coming, over which he comes across as one who may not hesitate to do business with the APC, unlike Mark who said he won’t quit PDP, stating: “If I will be the last man standing, I will remain in PDP. Defectors are fair weather friends.”
In 16 years of its control of power, the PDP created a greedy and self-serving class now called in local parlance as “chop-chop” politicians.
Now, it is being made to pay for arrogance of power, imposition and dumping, deficit strategy and, of course, the resolve of the North to fight as one to get the Presidency back.